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Mobile roaming charges to end within two years, says European Parliament

Roaming charges within Europe will drop next year, and end completely in two years, the European Parliament said last week.20 Jul 2015

The parliament's industry committee has approved a deal to end roaming charges. The deal had previously been agreed with EU governments and the European Commission, the parliament said.

The EU has been reducing roaming charges since 2007 and the parliament has "repeatedly asked for them to be scrapped altogether", it said.

Spanish European Parliament member Pilar del Castillo Vera, who is responsible for steering this proposal through Parliament, said: “It is a great achievement for the European Parliament. We managed to get the end of roaming and to guarantee an open internet."

Roaming charges will be abolished from 15 June 2017, except where consumers exceed a "fair use" cap on the use of mobile data services abroad. This will follow a transitional period from 16 April 2016 until 14 June 2017 when operators will be able to charge a "small additional amount" on top of domestic prices.

For example, if you pay eight euro cents per minute for an outgoing call at home, making the call from another EU country should not cost more than 13 euro cents, the parliament said.

The committee published a table setting out the maximum regulated roaming charges, as agreed by the Commission and member states.

The full European Parliament will vote on the deal with the Council this autumn, probably in October, the parliament said. If approved by both Parliament and the Council, the regulation will enter into force on 30 April 2016.

Earlier this month, the Council of Ministers said that its Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) had given its backing to an informal agreement on the reforms that was struck between the Council and European Parliament last week.

The agreement also covers EU-wide net neutrality rules to ensure open access to internet content without discrimination, the parliament said.

The net neutrality rules would, from 30 April 2016, lay out strict conditions on when internet service providers (ISPs) could block or throttle the delivery of content requested by users of their network. It would prevent "paid prioritisation" of content delivery online.

Under the planned new regime, ISPs will be able to agree deals to deliver services of enhanced speed and quality with content providers in some cases, provided that it has no impact on "the open internet".